Philosophy and Criteria

Purpose and Approach

Public art has the ability to inspire, provoke and challenge. The broad purpose and mission of public art at the University of Michigan is to offer the campus community and the public transformative experiences with art; to raise challenging, timely issues and ideas; and to deepen our experience of place and community.

The University of Michigan aspires to possess a cohesive public art collection of national significance. Acting as a central review mechanism for works of art proposed for placement on the university campus, and acting in accordance with the committee charge, the President’s Advisory Committee on Public Art (PAConPA) strives to foster the enrichment of the university’s visual environment by positioning works of public art of the highest caliber in settings appropriate to the scale, purposes, aesthetics, and materials of individual works.


In evaluation of all public art proposals, the PAConPA applies a consistent set of criteria to works of public art that are offered to the university, as well as works that the university or its units proactively acquire. These criteria include: 

  • The aesthetic significance of an individual work of public art; 
  • The significance of the art or artists; 
  • The relative uniqueness of the work of art, including factors of originality and authenticity; 
  • The ethical position occupied by the work of art, including consideration of provenance; 
  • The contribution to the university’s educational mission and existing public art collection; and
  • The appropriateness of site, including surrounding architecture, hardscaping, landscaping, and public safety.

Public art sites are prioritized by prominence, visibility, history, and site lines. Criteria for proposed public art projects will be applied specifically in accordance with site prominence, with weighted consideration for the most prominent sites. Evaluation of public art proposals will be informed in consultation with the University Planner. Proposals are assessed by these criteria and the relationship to the entire collection and whether the proposed work brings diversity, range, and balance to the whole public art collection.